From Jewish Times publisher to selling yogurt

Andrew Buerger thought he'd spend his life as the editor and publisher of Baltimore's Jewish Times -- someone in his family had held the job for nearly 100 years.

But when he was pushed out of the publication by a new owner earlier this month, it didn't take Buerger long to find his Plan B: yogurt.

The 47-year-old has joined his wife's fledgling business selling Icelandic-style yogurt. Called B'More Organic, the business just got a big break when Wegman's agreed to carry it in 50 of its supermarkets.

"It took a long time to accept the fact that I was not going to die in that [Baltimore Jewish Times] chair," Buerger said Monday. "But when I did, I was content with it."

Earlier this month, after a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved the transaction, the Baltimore Jewish Times was sold to Route 95 Publications LLC, the Rockville-based affiliate of the company that owns Washington Jewish Week.

Buerger's family had established the Baltimore Jewish Times in 1919.

The longtime journalist and his wife Jennifer first tasted the Icelandic yogurt, called "skyr," on a trip to Iceland to raise money for their charity Jodi's Climb for Hope, which, named after Buerger's sister who died of cancer, raises money for breast cancer research.

A guide on a trek served them the yogurt with granola. Buerger, who is lactose intolerant, was reluctant to eat it. But he did -- and was surprised when he had no trouble with it.

It turns out skyr, similar to Greek yogurt, is high in protein but low in carbs and sugar. A health-food nut, Buerger was hooked.

"It was the healthiest thing I'd ever seen in my entire life," he said.

The couple launched the company in 2010, with Buerger helping as his day job allowed -- mainly on nights and weekends. They opened a plant in Lancaster and started manufacturing bottled smoothies in flavors including strawberry and mango/banana.

Before the Wegman's deal, they'd already had the smoothies on the shelves of organic shops in the area, as well as New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To keep growing, they now plan to move to a bigger plant in Lancaster and attempt to sell the yogurt to even more stores.

"Going from printing to manufacturing food, it's been a huge learning curve," Buerger said. "But the basic skills -- sales, marketing and promotion -- are about the same."

The Buergers are reserving 10 percent of the profits for their breast cancer cause.


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